About Naturalist Steve Engel
Steve Engel Resume for print (PDF)
Animal Tracks by Steve began...
on a dark and rainy night over twenty years ago when Steve should have been studying chemistry. Instead he read Tom Brown Jr.'s book, The Tracker. The next day, and each day after that, Steve began studying the ground and learning the skills of a tracker.
A logical step in this journey was to begin collecting animal tracks he found in the field. The years went by and it wasn't long before Steve had accumulated a large collection of tracks. Years of experimenting with methods of reproducing these tracks in order to find a way to share their story with others followed. Clay was initially chosen for its durability, its ability to capture every detail of a track and for its authenticity as a product of the earth itself. New techniques, such as cold cast bronze and others have been developed more recently.
Steve has long been a note-taking-field-naturalist and outdoor science educator by profession. His authentic reproductions of wild animal tracks are enhanced with entertaining story cards telling of where and when the track was discovered and the activities of the animals that made the tracks.
Beyond the Basics
Steve Engel grew up along the Missouri River in North Dakota and spent many summers in the north woods of Minnesota. Throughout his childhood his family camped and explored along rivers, lakes and the highways between North Dakota and distant points. Formal studies in natural history, at Evergreen State College, gave structure to a life-long interest in nature and helped to create a passion for educating others. Since 1982 he has worked in the field of outdoor environmental education with leading institutions such as: Yosemite National Institutes, National Wildlife Federation, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Bay Oceanic Society, The Oregon Zoo and the Audubon Society of Portland. As a naturalist and tour leader he works regularly for Lindblad Expeditions and has lead numerous trips for EcoTours of Oregon and Full Circle Tours of Oregon.
Living on the California coast and teaching at the Headlands Institute in the 1980's provided key experiences in developing a deeper understanding of nature and a philosophy for sharing that understanding and appreciation with others. Active participation in field studies with the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Audubon Canyon Ranch and the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory were fundamental to his development as a naturalist, as were numerous fall seasons passed on a Nevada mountain top in the 1990's, identifying and counting migrating raptors for HawkWatch International.
Many opportunities to teach others about animal tracks have come Steve's way over the years. They have led to the idea of Animal Tracks Literacy, and more to the point, the lack of it among most people. Animal Track Stencils™ were created as a way of putting accurate information in people's own hands. The act of drawing tracks speeds up learning as right and left brains engage and allows for creativity to find a place in the process.
Animal tracks literacy is about more than recognizing who made a track, however. The skills that are part of a tracker's kit are skills that are important in all areas of life: observation, critical thinking, and imagination. These skills help us engage with the world and improve our quality of life. They also lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation for the natural world that sustains us and this is critical to our efforts at maintaining a quality of life we can take pride in handing over to future generations.
New sidewalks for Raymond, Washington
The most exciting opportunity to promote Animal Tracks Literacy in recent years happened in the fall of 2001. Animal Tracks by Steve, the city of Raymond, Washington, Bridget Beatty and Al Reinhardt, began the process of imprinting animal track stories into the freshly poured sidewalks of downtown Raymond. The idea had developed with the townspeople themselves, facilitated by Bridget Beatty, in her work as a consultant with them.
First, the fifth and sixth graders of Raymond Elementary School were introduced to the Animal Tracks Literacy Project. Students and teachers then created over twenty stories that described imagined events in the lives of local wildlife. The children's stories were very creative and showed an understanding of the place of each animal in the food chain. You can now visit Raymond, a lovely little town on the shores of Willapa Bay in southwest Washington, walk along Third Street, and read these stories from a guidebook while also "reading" the same story from tracks imprinted in the cement.
Ask Steve to visit your school or workplace
Please feel free to inquire about rates and services if you would like more information about any of Steve's products or would like him to visit your school or work place with a program in Animal Tracks Literacy.
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